Gotta give religious groups credit where it’s due. An interfaith coalition has put out a statement asking political candidates to keep their faith out of politics:
There is a point… where an emphasis on religion in a political campaign becomes inappropriate and even unsettling in a religiously diverse society such as ours. Appealing to voters along religious lines is divisive. It is contrary to the American ideal of including all Americans in the political process, regardless of whether they are members of large and powerful religious groups, religious minorities, or subscribe to no faith tradition.
Voters should be encouraged to make their decisions based upon their assessment of the qualifications, integrity, and political positions of candidates. A candidate’s religious beliefs — or lack thereof — should never be used by voters, nor suggested by political candidates, as a test for public office or as a shorthand summary of a candidate’s qualifications.
Candidates for office bear the primary responsibility for setting the proper tone for elections. Anyone who legitimately aspires to public office must be prepared to set an example and to be a leader for all Americans, of all faiths or of no faith.
I don’t know if I agree with all of that. Voters should never use a candidates religious beliefs when weighing the decision of whether or not to vote for them? I think the way candidates espouse their religious beliefs gives me an insight into the way they think. It lets me know how they make decisions. It lets me know when I don’t want to vote for them. If they believe in certain religious lies, what other kinds of bullshit will they buy into?
President Obama may be a Christian but he never struck me as one who let the Bible override common sense, which is one reason I voted for him in 2008. Rick Santorum, on the other hand, seems incapable of making a decision without consulting his holy book first. That’s frightening.
Still, the joint statement is a good one. The candidates aren’t running to be the next pastor. They’re running to become president — for everyone. They, more than the voters, have a responsibility to keep their religious views separate from their public actions. If they let their faith guide them, their actions should still be grounded in secular values.
Side note: I’m wondering why there isn’t a single atheist or Humanist group signed onto this letter. Surely, some of them would’ve agreed to its principles, no?
(Thanks to Dan for the link)